When Martin Sheen began pursuing an acting career in the early 1960s, he made a crucial choice that would follow him for the rest of his life. The then-young actor, who was raised by a Spanish father and an Irish mother, opted to abandon his given name of Ramon Estévez and use the stage name Martin Sheen as a way to get more work.
The move paid off, as Sheen was able to build a highly successful acting career that included roles in movies like “Apocalypse Now” and iconic TV characters including President Jed Bartlet on “The West Wing” and Robert Hanson on “Grace and Frankie.” And the actor is still going strong at the age of 81, as he is currently gearing up to star alongside his son Charlie in “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin’s new show “Ramble On.”
Still, as he looks back on his storied career, Sheen has some regrets. In a new interview with Closer Weekly, the actor revealed that he wishes he had pursued an acting career under his original name.
“That’s one of my regrets,” Sheen said. “I never changed my name officially. It’s still Ramon Estévez on my birth certificate. It’s on my marriage license, my passport, driver’s license. Sometimes you get persuaded when you don’t have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in, and you pay for it later. But, of course, I’m only speaking for myself.”
All of Sheen’s children have pursued careers as actors, and he advised them to keep their Spanish names. Some, like Emilio Estévez, heeded their father’s advice. But others, such as Charlie Sheen, famously followed in his footsteps and adopted his stage name as their own. While Sheen acknowledges that everyone gets to make their own choices in life, he is grateful that his son Emilio did not change his last name to Sheen.
“The only influence I had on Emilio was to keep his name,” he said. “When he started out, his agent was advising him to change his name to Sheen and he wouldn’t do it. And I thank God he didn’t.”